A miserable Christmas period saw the Sky Blues win one point from five games and slip out of the play-off positions to 11th position as I write this. They now have 35 points from 26 games and are four points off the play-off positions. The division continues to throw up more and more strange results and although the Sky Blues have more points at this stage than all but two of the last nine seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03 the exceptions) a chance has been missed to consolidate a position in the top six.
The last few weeks has seen a glut of managerial changes, the majority of them being sackings. It is sad to report that two ex-City players were victims of the sack just before Christmas. Sam Allardyce was very unfortunate to get the order of the boot from Blackburn Rovers and his departure means that no ex-City players are managing in the Premier League. His replacement, for the time being anyway, is former City assistant boss Steve Kean who had two years at the Ricoh under Chris Coleman.
Paul Trollope of Bristol Rovers is another ex-City manager to be sacked before Christmas. He only played a handful of games for City, at the fag-end of the disastrous 2001-02 season (a Jim Smith signing if I remember correctly) but had had a five-year spell as manager at Rovers. Interestingly four of the last five Rovers’ managers were ex-City men with Trollope preceded by Ray Graydon, Gerry Francis and Garry Thompson.
The Championship’s struggling clubs have been changing managers like a merry-go-round in recent weeks with Preston, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Sheffield United all having changes. The Blades’ change was enforced on them by Gary Speed’s elevation (is that the right word) to Welsh national boss. Blades’ fans did not seem unduly worried about Speed leaving as they languish near the foot of the table and it offered an opportunity to former City boss Micky Adams to return to the Championship. After leaving Coventry, some say unluckily, Micky had a bad time at Brighton but has rejuvenated his managerial credentials with a spell at Port Vale in League Two. Now he has landed his dream job, managing the team he has not only supported since he was a boy but also started his playing career with. His next league game will see him returning to the Ricoh Arena almost exactly four years to the day of his departure as manager.
Talking of former players Ken Jones of Finham sent me a nice letter a few weeks ago with a cutting from The Packet, a Cornish newspaper. It was a match report of Falmouth Town’s 2-1 win over Witheridge in the South West Peninsula League. Former City midfielder Sean Flynn, now aged 42, is the Assistant manager/player for Falmouth. Flynn (pictured below) joined City from Halesowen Town in November 1991 and made his first team debut on Boxing Day and scored in a 3-0 win at Bramall Lane. Between 1991 and 1995 he made over 100 appearances for the Sky Blues scoring 10 goals.
Today is FA Cup Third Round day, a day that used to be such an exciting one in the football calendar. Now for all but a handful of non-league or lower division sides it is a damp squib day. The FA Cup has lost its glamour and all across the country season ticket holding fans will be expected to cough up extra money to pay for a cup tie, just after they have maxed out on the credit cards in the run up to Christmas and in the January sales. Gates across the country will be pitifully low with a gate of well under 10,000 expected at the Ricoh for the visit of unattractive Crystal Palace. Last season just over 7,000 attended the Portsmouth replay and after City’s miserable Christmas results I think today’s gate may struggle to top that. Palace may well be buoyed by a new manager (or caretaker Dougie Freedman) and they will not need reminding that they have never lost at the Ricoh with four wins and one draw since 2005. When you consider that in the only other FA Cup meeting between the clubs (in 1908) Palace won 4-2 at Highfield Road the omens seemed stacked against City. That game back in 1908 by the way was a memorable one in the club’s history. They had reached the equivalent of the Third Round for the very first time, as a Birmingham League club, and their efforts not only attracted a Highfield Road record crowd of 9,884 but also brought them national press exposure for the first time. Although beaten by their South London opponents City were, within six months, voted into the Southern League and the club never looked back.